WNBA Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore is a force on and off the court. Earlier this year, she put her basketball career on pause, for a second consecutive season, to advocate for the release of Jonathan Irons, a man wrongfully convicted of burglary and assault.
According to The New York Times, Irons was 16 when Stanley Stotler, an O’Fallon, Missouri resident, accused Irons of burglarizing his home and shooting him. While there were no witnesses or physical evidence to support the case, Stotler testified in court that the teen had committed the offense. A police officer also claimed Irons admitted to the crime, a statement his attorneys vehemently denied.
Irons was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Moore, an evangelical Christian and Missouri native, met Irons in 2007 at the Jefferson City Correctional Center in Missouri. And she spent months advocating for his release on the national stage and paying his legal bills.
Back in March, Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green rescinded the 1998 conviction, citing that the attorney for the prosecution had withheld evidence, including fingerprint proof, that would’ve exonerated the teenager. The ruling was upheld by the appeals court in April. And on Wednesday, Irons, now 40, walked out of the maximum security prison a free man.
The WNBA small forward and family gathered to clap and cheer as Irons walked out of the Jefferson City Correction Center. Moore posted a video of Irons’ release on IG TV with the caption: “Freedom.”
Moore asked Iron to turn to the cameras and share his feelings in one sentence.
“I feel like I can live life now. I’m free. I’m blessed. I just want to live my life worthy of God’s help and influence…He made this possible,” Irons said, as a face mask with the words “hope” dangled from his neck. “I thank everybody who supported me, Maya and her family and just to be home, to have somewhere to be home. I’m so grateful.”